The number of deaths in Minnesota caused directly by drinking dropped slightly in 2017 — to 636 people. With a few exceptions, the annual death toll from alcohol has been rising steadily since 2000.
The numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health include only deaths that are directly caused by alcohol, such as liver diseases. The numbers would be much higher if they also included fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes or falls.
Health department researcher Kari Gloppen said Minnesota has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the country.
"People are trying to self-treat their pain, whether that's physical pain or psychological pain so I think that binge drinking might be one way to self-medicate," she said.
But Gloppin also said drinking is part of Minnesota culture. She said Minnesotans need to be aware that it can also have serious consequences.